Ahead of UN session, US encourages Indo-Pak meet

SansadTV Bureau

FILE: Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal addressing a presser in Washington. Photo – PTI

The US Administration has urged the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan to hold meetings in order to address the issues between the two nations. Of late, the ties between India and Pakistan have suffered a dip with the cancellation of much-awaited NSA-level talks in New Delhi last month. The repeated ceasefire violations by the Pakistan forces along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir have strained the matters further.

Incidentally, this came just days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif head to New York to attend the UN General Assembly session starting September 25.

“They (leaders of India and Pakistan) have to determine what is the right place and right time (for a meeting). We would certainly welcome it, whether it is on the margins of the UN or any other venue and timing. That is really for the two countries to determine,” Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal told the news agency in Washington.

Describing the relationship between India and Pakistan as “a very complex” one, Assistant Secretary Biswal said that the US is encouraged that the two leaders continue to seek opportunities to engage in a constructive dialogue. The senior office bearer also expressed “disappointment” over the cancellation of NSA talks between Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz.

“We were disappointed that the NSA talks did not materialise. I understand that there were very complicated dynamics under way. We continue to believe that for there to be true security, stability and prosperity there needs to be a constructive relationship between the two countries,” Ms Biswal said.

“We do think that they need to engage… And we would be supportive of those efforts. And we are willing to support that in any way the countries determine. But it is for them (to decide),” she added, at the same time denying that US is pushing leaders of India and Pakistan to meet.

“I would not say that we are really pushing them. This needs to be driven by the two countries, but we certainly welcome it, support it and encourage it,” Ms Biswal said.

However, on their part, both India and Pakistan are yet to give an indication about even a possibility of meeting between the two prime ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The two leaders had last met in July on the sidelines of SCO summit in Ufa, Russia.

On the contentious issue of perpetrators of the terror attacks in India having a political cover in Pakistan, the Assistant Secretary in Obama administration reiterated that her government stands against terrorism in all its manifestations across the region.

“India has suffered greatly. The United States has suffered greatly at the hands of terrorists. And Pakistan has suffered probably the greatest number of casualties. So it is in the interest of all of us to combat extremism and terrorism and take a very unequivocal stand against terrorism and we continue to engage very deeply on those issues,” Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal summarised.

(With inputs from the PTI)